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Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman
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Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman

4.10  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,061 Ratings  ·  329 Reviews
In his long-awaited memoir, Yvon Chouinard-legendary climber, businessman, environmentalist, and founder of Patagonia, Inc.-shares the persistence and courage that have gone into being head of one of the most respected and environmentally responsible companies on earth. From his youth as the son of a French Canadian blacksmith to the thrilling, ambitious climbing expeditio ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published September 5th 2006 by Penguin Books (first published 2005)
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Lid Hi, it's a mixture of some genres. Long story short - Yvon tells his story and the whys and the hows of Patagonia's creation; and what Patagonia…moreHi, it's a mixture of some genres. Long story short - Yvon tells his story and the whys and the hows of Patagonia's creation; and what Patagonia stands for.

Biography, Autobiography, Entrepreneurship(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mason Wiebe
Feb 03, 2008 Mason Wiebe rated it really liked it
Chouinard’s story of his values and what led him to start Patagonia. The principles that drive his company are really his own and he is a reluctant businessman. Big focus on quality, durability and doing more with less. He is a committed environmentalist and believes businesses should be responsible for the damage they do to the Earth. Refreshing.
Quotes I liked:
Doing risk sport had taught me another important lesson: never exceed your limits. You push the envelope and you live for those moments
Ryan Miller
Jan 09, 2012 Ryan Miller rated it it was ok
Patagonia is an amazing company with great products and a commendable mission. I'm probably more apt to purchase something from Patagonia than from one of their competitors after reading this book, but I don't subscribe to Chouinard's overwhelming anti-establishment sentiment. Somebody's got to make enough money to buy their $500 ski jackets, and it isn't the dirtbags living out of their cars, smoking pot and eating cat tuna. The environmental conservation movement should not have to be so polar ...more
May 20, 2008 Julie rated it really liked it
This book changes you. If you don't come away doing SOMETHING more for the environment than you already are, well then I think there's something wrong with you. It's a do as I do book, and is quite effective at that. My company's next two printing projects will be done on 100 percent post-consumer content paper, produced with wind-generated power, and in a smaller format footprint than previously intended...because of this book. I'm riding my bike to work more often ... because of this book. I l ...more
Vidya Balakrishnan
May 26, 2015 Vidya Balakrishnan rated it it was amazing
This book is a must read. The author Chouinard talks about his experience as an entrepreneur. He is a nature enthusiast who happened to become successful thanks to his passion for the outdoors. What really stood out about this book is the vision and mission he had for his company Patagonia. Its amazing to read how much they believe in a cause and how much they strive to make the world a better place. Apart from the growth of Patagonia he also discusses and enlightens the reader on sustainability ...more
Mar 14, 2014 Joe rated it did not like it
I'm always wary of the stories of successful people who make it seem like they fell into their success. At the same time, because Patagonia is, for a for-profit business, very environmentally responsible and family-oriented, I really wanted to like this book. Unfortunately, I didn't.

The beginning is pretty interesting, as Chouinard writes about his early life and how his company started making better equipment for mountain climbers. I was with him for this part. He figured out how to build a bet
Alper Çugun
Dec 24, 2013 Alper Çugun rated it it was amazing
Chouinard tells the story of how the succes of his company Patagonia has forced him to invent a whole and balanced way of doing business. He takes a longer term view focused on real sustainability and in doing so he does does away with conventional business paradigms where the goal is growth at any cost.
Patagonia as told by Chouinard is an example for the rest of the world with a dedication to the highest level of quality and the lowest amount of side-effects, environmentally and socially. Once
Jul 07, 2008 Amy rated it really liked it
Shelves: biz
This book starts out as a fantastic story of Patagonia, the outdoor gear and clothing retailer. Then Chouinard, the founder of the company, breaks down the company into its value components. It would be great, except he repeats the same details he spoke of in the beginning. I would have appreciated a better integration of the two parts. Overall, a very interesting read, and a great lesson about keeping to your values and making sacrifices early to reap benefits later.
Nov 13, 2015 Cate rated it did not like it
I love origin stories, and was drawn to this to read the story of how Chouinard lives a life of adventure while running a successful business. The beginning was interesting, I liked reading about his early years and how he started making climbing equipment basically on the beach and growing that into a business. The "reluctant" part of the business story wears thin pretty quickly: this guy obviously knows how to run a business, and wants to run a business, so the whole I'm-really-just-an-outdoor ...more
Oct 27, 2009 Jamie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Patagonia is a truly inspiring company. While this book is a relatively quick read, its tenets left an indelible mark on my conscience. Prior to reading this memoir by founder Yvon Chouinard, I was somewhat familiar with Patagonia's business model as well as its reputation for superior quality products, but I had no idea how intrigued I would be by the company's story until getting into this book.

I found Chouinard's description of the company's beginnings to be incredibly interesting and candid,
Aug 01, 2011 Mike rated it really liked it
After reading this book I'm definitely drinking the Patagonia Coolaid. I told my roommates not to let me buy any Patagonia gear for at least a month after reading this book so that I don't make any rash purchases. I felt it was a great book that talked about the early days of patagonia and chouinard equipment (to become Black Diamond). However, it was defintely a chance for Yvon Chouinard to stand up on his soap box and talk about how awesome Patagonia is and how it's products are far superior t ...more
It's a must read for those who care about the environment, along the way when you succeed in your business. There is a lot to learn from this book right from Leadership, how this company is focused on its mission, their values and how committed they are towards it. I admire and solemnly respect the author of this book and the owner of Patagonia - Yvon Chouinard, for making it environmentally sustainable. When we are focused on our goal, we easily ignore what we are doing to our environment, one ...more
Sep 12, 2015 Willerd rated it it was amazing
This book is a history lesson on outdoors culture, a mission statement on how to conduct responsible business and be a thoughtful citizen of our planet, and a call to action to preserve our wilderness as told through the story of Chouinard Equipment (the climbing hardware manufacturer which would become Black Diamond) and Patagonia, the iconic outdoor wear company.
Matt McAlear
Nov 19, 2015 Matt McAlear rated it really liked it
Great book overall. The very beginning and end are a little dry but the middle has very solid content. I especially like their business philosophies and company policies.
Mete Rodoper
Apr 21, 2016 Mete Rodoper rated it it was amazing
Yvon Chouinard is one my heroes of all time, not merely because of his famous Patagonia Clothing company but also his dedication to preserve and give back to nature. I strongly recommend this book, not limited, to businesspeople who would like to challenge their conventionally taught business methods in business schools, to nature lovers who would like to get inspired by a real adventurer and, to those whom are concerned about the future of our planet’s resources and want to make educated consum ...more
Erick van Til
Feb 09, 2015 Erick van Til rated it really liked it
Part how-to manual, part memoir, Let My People Go Surfing is a must-read for anyone who is a fan of Patagonia and/or Black Diamond's equipment. Let My People is also a manifesto of sorts for both ethical sourcing and environmentally sustainable business and consumer practices. Lots of great history on things done well and less-than-well by Yvon and his crew back in the early days. Anyone familiar with Mr. Chouinard's communication style will appreciate his salty opinions; anyone not should be pr ...more
Ryan F.
Oct 24, 2014 Ryan F. rated it it was amazing
Ryan Fincher

The non fiction book Let My People Go Surfing written by Yvon Chouinard gives a first hand experience about starting a company. Yvon Chouinard single handedly started Patagonia, a business that makes the highest quality climbing gear in his garage. Yvon had a passion for rock climbing and surfing ever since he was in high school and joined a rock climbing club. He used this passion to fuel his creativity toward these sports. Yvon said, “I wanted to make my own climbing
Renato Costa
May 29, 2016 Renato Costa rated it it was amazing
Uma filosofia de vida e negócios que não são diferentes!
Jenny Earnest
Feb 12, 2015 Jenny Earnest rated it it was amazing
I've always admired Patagonia's refined visual identity system and aesthetic style as a student of graphic design and as a lover of the outdoors. But as I started doing some casual reading on Patagonia's website about the company's philosophies, I grew hungrier and hungrier for information on the environmental crisis. Given all of the wonderful articles Patagonia led me to online, I figured this book that founder (and climbing idol) Yvon Chouinard wrote would be a good (and fun) place to start. ...more
Brian Perusek
Jan 31, 2015 Brian Perusek rated it really liked it
Great read if interested in the life of Mr. Chouinard, the Patagonia brand, Patagonia itself, the outdoors and environmentalism. I was surprised just how much of a focus this read had on environmentalist, politics and policies, and Chouinard's true "left wing" practices. He spiced it up a bit with religious opinions and how beliefs a play a role in how we respond to the environment; especially in political arenas, and how his own foundation in Zen Buddhism leads him to focus on a more mindful su ...more
Xander Mitchell
Nov 13, 2014 Xander Mitchell rated it it was amazing
It's been about a decade since Let My People Go Surfing was published, but it remains an extremely relevant and important book. In a charming and unpretentious tone, Chouinard relays his background and how that influenced the philosophy of Chouinard Equipment and later Patagonia. There is ample information on the history and rise of Patagonia, but the meat of the book covers Patagonia's philosophy. In short, the company seeks first to promote environmentally sustainable business practices. The c ...more
Apr 28, 2014 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very challenging book, which forces the reader to examine themselves in ways they might not want to. Yvon Chouinard built Patagonia in a purposeful manner, though not without making many mistakes along the way, which he takes full blame for. He and the company are guided by philosophies that underlie every aspect of the business, notably the commitment to do the least possible harm to the environment. They also give 1% of sales to activist groups annually and purposefully constrain their growth. ...more
Mar 28, 2015 Scott rated it really liked it
For any of those enterprising individuals out there this is a great book for you. For some people the battle between "going corporate" and living a life of minimal impact is very real and I think this is a good guideline for a way to do both. Either way it is an interesting read and will certainly get you motivated to pursue your own personal goal.
Christian Allen
Bit wordy on their company philosophy but really great ideas on how companies can minimize their impact on the environment. Best was their use of recycled soda bottles to create synthentic polyesters and paying employee's two months salary if they work fulltime in environmental activism. They even pay the bail of those participating in civil disobedience cases for environmental protection!

Alexander Anderson
Sep 02, 2015 Alexander Anderson rated it liked it
Let me say right off that Patagonia clothing does nothing for me. Although, I'll take it on faith that it's useful and well made, it seems to me that most of its customer base buys into the fashion reward of the brand rather than the utilitarian aspect and beauty of the product.

The company itself can claim some respect as it appears to care more about making changes than being seen to make a change (it certainly doesn't hide this fact, either). There is plain talking, patches of truth, smidgens
Heather Ramshaw
Oct 30, 2015 Heather Ramshaw rated it it was amazing
Here I am, continuing to drink the Patagonia Kool-Aid. Yvon Chouinard is a badass and his business practices are innovative and successful. The book reads easily (very story-like) despite covering business policies and standards.
Jul 03, 2014 Duncan rated it liked it
Yvon's ramblings on business and sustainability. He repeats a lot of mantras used by others (e.g. cradle to cradle) and the book is sort of disjointed. It's obvious he just told stories and anecdotes to a ghost writer who tried to create a logical whole.

At the end of the day, he doesn't manage to resolve the core dilemma between profits/business and ecological sustainability. His company has certainly done some very interesting things in this regard, but he doesn't delve too deeply into them. In
Damir Antunovic
Apr 20, 2012 Damir Antunovic rated it really liked it
I freakin' love Patagonia. Love their philosophy, the way they approach clothes manufacturing and environment protection. I'm also kind of addicted to their blog "The Cleanest Line".
May 13, 2016 Meepspeeps rated it really liked it
This is one of the best memoirs I've read about a business founder. It's well-written and he carefully describes how his personal beliefs translated into business practices, for example creating one of the first on-site day cares for employees' children. I like his broad view, such as "Patagonia as an ecosystem, with its vendors and customers as an integral part of that system. A problem anywhere in the system eventually affects the whole, and this gives everyone an overriding responsibility to ...more
Apr 05, 2015 Megan rated it really liked it
Shelves: business-bibles
Chouinard does business the way I wish everyone did business. He is my entrepreneurial inspiration and this book is a fabulous overview of his philosophy.

The only reason this book gets four stars instead of five is because (by no fault of its own), it's ten years old. Since it was published in 2006, Patagonia has since done more incredible things I wish were covered in this book... like B Corps, Patagonia's results-oriented organization structure, e-commerce, and a deeper dive into Patagonia st
Becky Crump
Feb 26, 2014 Becky Crump rated it it was amazing
Why we love this one - above and beyond the recommendation that employees need to have fun. It’s a memoir by Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia - kind of every eco-employee’s hero. This book looks at his wild and adventurous early days and follows through to his current life as a CEO. Yvon inspires all leaders to consider their people and the environment above all else and also reminds us that you have to be passionate about what you’re doing. Climb a rock, ride a wave, or simply walk in t ...more
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“How you climb a mountain is more important than reaching the top.” 71 likes
“The more you know, the less you need.” 61 likes
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